lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
So, coming home from the fireworks n Tuesday, I was caught in stop-and-stop traffic for about ten minutes when I noticed there was white smoke rising from the hood.  I cut the engine and trie to convince traffic to go around me, to limited success, until some folk came by to help push me off the side of the road, and help me figure out what the issue was - but seeing as how it was nearly midnight, on a dark road, there wasn't much I could do.  So I locked the car up, and called a Lyft to get home (about a 12 mile ride).

And then called a Lyft the next morning (yay morning commute surge pricing, oy) before the cops could decide the car (clearly marked "breakdown, please do not tow" on the dash) needed to be impounded.

Thanks to the long-distance aid of Jim C, mechanic-on-call, I was able to determine that yes, there was coolant leaking, and figure out the approximate location of said leak, although not the specifics (huzzah for small hands and elbows that bend, when you need to reach onto the guts of a (cooled) car engine.  But that required being towed to a repair place (since the one I'd called that morning never got back to me), and cooling my heels for several hours until they told me the extent (and cost) of the damage.


I am very tempted to do a "one month, one shot, if we hit $X I will give you guys a novella" car repair fundraiser - except between my patreon and the novel revisions and the new book, I just on't have the story-brain for it.

I wonder how much one slightly-used liver would go for on the black market?


lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
I've mostly avoided talking about politics here (mostly) because I do that shit on Facebook and Twitter. But this article came up in my feed this morning, and it's...credible. And would explain Trump's need to strip-mine the country.

Since Donald Trump's surprise election one month ago, there's been a bubbling conversation about the mammoth conflicts of interest he will have if he is running or even owning his far flung business enterprises while serving as the head of state. I've suggested that the whole notion of 'conflicts of interest' doesn't really capture what we're dealing with here, which is really a pretty open effort to leverage the presidency to expand his family business. But a couple things came together for me today which make me think we've all missed the real issue.

Maybe he can't divest because he's too underwater to do so or more likely he's too dependent on current and expanding cash flow to divest or even turn the reins over to someone else.
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
For those who're hewing to the fiscal side of the election more than the social:

"This morning, Moody’s Analytics released a report concluding that Clinton’s economic plan would create 3.2 million jobs and accelerate growth of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). By contrast, earlier this month, a similar (albeit contested) Moody’s analysis of Trump’s economic plan estimated that it would reduce employment (by about 3.5 million jobs), reduce economic output, and prompt a painful recession."


Moody's assessment of Trump

Moody's assessment of Clinton
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
I am spending the weekend adulting for tax (and other financial) purposes.

This is about as fun as it sounds. But it's also kind of satisfying, if only to ease the "ack panic" sense that comes when it's NOT done...

At least I have good company for the process.

Diagonally, nearly twenty years ago, I visited Napa/Sonoma for the 1st time. This month I revisited some of the wineries I saw then. My tastes have changed since then (considerably!), but the V. Sattui dry riesling is still v. pretty.

(amusingly, my reaction to the winery itself has not changed. The grounds are gorgeous, but give me a winery that focuses more on the tasting experience than the related merchandising, please.)

And that's all I've got for a weekend report.  Adulting is the stuff of dull blogging, guys.


Mar. 25th, 2015 06:44 am
lagilman: coffee or die (bitch)
As irritated as I get when people owe me money (or goods or services) and are late in payment, I get even MORE annoyed, I discover, when friends are shafted. Especially when the only reason they haven't been paid is that the person owing seems to have decided that they just don't HAVE to.  And don't bother to actually talk to the person they're shafting.

(in this case, since last summer)

Look, if you promise someone payment in exchange for services? You honor your agreement. You don't just disappear off the radar and hope everyone forgets/absolves you.

Nobody forgets.
lagilman: coffee or die (meerkat coffee)
Mostly I'm staying out of this because there's so much posturing and BS on both sides, it's like having two mastadons butting heads/tusks while you're a wee burrowing mammal just trying not to get stepped on, but if you want a wee burrowing animal's take on it, Scalzi as usual has something to say...

And so does Walter Jon Williams.

And yeah, pretty much What They're Saying.
lagilman: coffee or die (the general warned me...)
EtA for Do Not Like:

The plumber is here to tear open the bathroom ceiling (to deal with a leak upstairs).

Castiel Kitten of Thursday is Dubious but Curious about this stranger. Boomerang, Cat of Size, is under the coffee table where no Bad Things can reach him.

The Thumb-Monkey is trying to work through it all. This is one of those times when having an open floor plan kinda sucks.

Things I would like to replace:

Laptop (in usage years, it's closing in on 5)
coffee grinder (10 years of hard usage)
wine fridge (the motor is making occasional whining grrrrgrrr noises)

Things I need to replace:


Things I'm gonna buy anyway:

... probably nothing.  *sighs*  Although I'm about to throw $100+ at a renewed passport, does that count?

On the plus side, I did make a reasonable-sized contribution to my Roth IRA for 2013, and I set aside the money for 1Q 04 estimated taxes.  Adulting: It kinda sucks.
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
EtA:  Thankfully, Jan Brewer's mind was able to understand that if she signed this, a) her state would hemorrhage taxable income/tourist money and b) the state would be spending a LOT of money fighting lawsuits, and c) the Feds would be raising an eyebrow over the constitutionality of it [more lawsuits] and the probability that the state might have bigoted themselves out of Federal funds....

The Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines released a statement today sharply criticizing efforts by some states to pass legislation allowing businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians.

"As a global values-based company, Delta Air Lines is proud of the diversity of its customers and employees, and is deeply concerned about proposed measures in several states, including Georgia and Arizona, that would allow businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals," said Delta's press release. "If passed into law, these proposals would cause significant harm to many people and will result in job losses. They would also violate Delta's core values of mutual respect and dignity shared by our 80,000 employees worldwide and the 165 million customers we serve every year. Delta strongly opposes these measures and we join the business community in urging state officials to reject these proposals."

the money shot, as it were:

Delta is a major job creator in the Atlanta area, where the company has its headquarters and hub at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Not a threat...exactly.  But they've indicated that they hold a very large bat and may not be afraid to use it.  Now, an airline isn’t going to pack up and move their hub overnight… but a corporate HQ? That can shift pretty fast. And take a lot of tax revenue with it.

Mind, I still think Delta’s a crap-performing airline. But my hat’s off to them, this morning.
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
Shirley Temple Black has died, at age 85 (somehow, I'd thought she was older).  I always found her movies far too Precious, but set in a historical context, they were amazingly positive and useful films, and she always seemed very aware of and pleased by the important role she played in American social history.  Plus, she's a solid example of how child stardom doesn't have to lead to wrack and ruin once you pass puberty.

Rest in peace, madam.

In other news....

Tax guy appointment this afternoon. Despite having 90% of the forms and information needed, I'm still certain he's going to give me that Heavy Sigh and tell me he's going to file for an extension...

(we go through this every year. He's so horrified by the rest of my work schedule, I think he just likes getting me an extension on deadlines where he can...)

Last year was a bit of a disaster, money-wise.  I did well enough in terms of monies earned, but there were so many unanticipated expenses ($5,000 in vet bills alone, for Pandora) and so many checks not arriving on time (and some that STILL haven't arrived), that I had to shuffle through the savings account more than I'm comfortable with, and I'm still trying to recover.  Which also means that my record-keeping slacked off from my usual standards.  Bad meerkat, no cookie.  Need to do better this year.

Also need to re-jigger my spreadsheets.  There are things that made sense 5 years ago that no longer make sense, and new categories and allocations to consider...

When it comes to taxes, are you a careful-keeper, or a shoebox-receipt-thrower?
lagilman: coffee or die (meerkat and diet coke)
from [ profile] mb_galleycat at Most Authors Make Less Than $1,000 a Year: DBW

The research revealed that only 10 percent of traditionally published authors made more than $20,000 a year and 5 percent of self-published authors made more than $20,000 a year."

I'm pretty sure that these stats aren't the entire story, but they're much of the plot. Depressing, isn't it?  Writing has rarely been a self-supporting business for the majority of its participants, which is why we once upon a time had sponsors, and now have bankrolled publishers, and reader-driven Kickstarter and Indiegogo, etc. So if you're a reader who wants to see more work from a writer, support it!

[pause here to link to the current kickstarter, because hey, it's relevant to the topic]

All this is why I have always, always hammered home the fact that writers - all creators, really - need to be businesspeople, too. It may not be what we thought we were signing up for, but guess what?  We're only artists when we're writing.  The rest of the time, we're sole proprietors of Me, Inc.  Keeping an eye on financials is essential, even if it's often not a fuckton of fun.

This is also why I encourage anyone who wants to become a freelancer to not get too hung up on the title.  Yes, "full-time writer" is a lovely thing.  There's a happy sort of glow about it, for many of us.  Poverty, less so.  When the story-related money doesn't come in, have something else on the side.  It might be another kind of writing, some other desk work you can do on a contract basis - or it might involve picking up shifts at the local retail store, movie theater, or restaurant or, moonlighting as a teacher, a cabbie, a carpenter (if it was good enough for Harrison Ford, it's good enough for you).  Don't ever let anyone give you shit about how taking other jobs make you any less of a full-time freelancer.  You're still selling your lance...just for a different war.

But keep writing.  Because even if you only earn $1,000 this year - next year you could be making $25,000.  But only if you have something to sell.

(And keep those non-writing skills in shape, too!  Because two or three good years might be followed by two or three dry ones.  That's just how it goes.)

originally published at Writer. Editor. Tired Person.
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
Preface:  I am normally of the "it's none of your business how much I earn, any more than how much you earn is any of my business" mindset.  But... maybe this will help people understand.  Or not.  I don't know.

[ profile] mizkit posted about writerly income at a momentary reality check and I'm reposting here because, well, WHAT SHE'S SAYING.  Never mind Rowling, King, Brown, etc.  Ain't nobody 'cept those very few getting rich at this job.  Damned few of us are earning above the poverty line (Federal standards: $12-15k per household of 1, $23-25k for a family of 3).

Catie and I are on a similar track (well, substitute two needy felines for a kid, and remove the spouse), and we are among the fortunate ones, at this point in time, in that we can say that we make an actual living out of this gig.

Averaging the past five years, I'm making around $45k/year, after my agency's 15% commission but before taxes.  After-taxes would make you cry, no lie. Freelancer taxes are hell.  I write more slowly than Catie does, which means I have fewer opportunities to sell, but I have my editorial sideline (5-10k of that pre-tax 45) which is why I can (almost) afford to live in NYC.*

(EtA: I also have multiple streams of writing income, between NYC, BookViewCafe, and direct-to-market)

As a point of comparison, the median family income in 2011 (most recent official numbers) was $61,455.   There are benefits to this gig, but a fat paycheck is rarely one of them.

Keep in mind that writers (all freelancers) are not eligible for unemployment insurance if we lose our job, and every year that's a very real risk.  So every year you're also (hopefully, ideally) squirreling away for the inevitable Really Bad Year(s).  As they say in the financials, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

(everything that follows beneath the cut is Catie's original post.  or you can go read it here directly.)

*and before anyone says "oh but why do you live in NYC if it's so expensive?"... because this is my home, and where my family lives.

Catie's original post )

lagilman: coffee or die (truth to power)
with no book-shaped horse in this race, I'm still watching & taking notes - you should, too.

I’ve been reading a lot of responses to the “deal” proposed by Night Shade Books and Skyhorse/Start Publishing, and as pretty much everything has been leaked every which fucking way (kicked off, no less, by a stupidly inaccurate and ill-timed Tweet by one of Night Shade’s own owners, which should surprise no one used to dealing with them). Myself and dozens of others have collected a lot of information and shared it round with folks affected.
lagilman: coffee or die (crunchy)

I have a horse in this race, distantly. I was the editorial assistant at Ace when the Starbridge books were first published. I did some of the production work on them. There is an alien species inspired by my nickname (meerkat). And I know that Ann deserves better than to be treated like this.

Sadly, this is not an unusual case. Writers are too often victimized, because hey, just one person, right? But if enough of a roar is raised...

Originally posted by [ profile] jimhines at Ann Crispin and Ridan Publishing

I’m pissed.

I’ve had an exhausting week, between taking care of my injured wife at home, trying to figure out my new job at work, conferences for the kids, and more. I was planning to come home tonight and crash.

And then I came across a post by Ann Crispin. You might recall me blogging about Ann’s situation earlier this year. She’s fighting cancer, and her only source of income this year would be through her Starbridge novels, which had been republished by Ridan Publishing.

Or at least that was the plan. Only Ridan Publishing apparently hasn’t bothered to pay her, or do to much of anything publishers are supposed to do. From her Facebook update:

Ridan has pretty much stopped communicating with me. My last two certified letters, which included the contract termination letter, were never picked up at the post office. Even though StarBridge came out on December 5, 2011, I have never received a royalty payment from Ridan.

I know some of you were waiting for books 6 and 7 in the StarBridge series. Those books were turned in months ago, edited and ready to go, but they have never been released.

Ridan Publishing is owned and run by Robin Sullivan. There have apparently been other questions and concerns about this publisher lately over on Absolute Write.

I don’t know if Sullivan is deliberately trying to scam authors, or if (more likely, in my opinion) she’s simply gotten in over her head.

But I do know that Ann Crispin is an author whose work I’ve enjoyed for more than half of my life, an author who has done tireless and invaluable work for other writers. To Crispin’s great credit, she wrote a very reasonable, level-headed post, hoping for a civil resolution to this mess.

I, on the other hand, am feeling rather less than civil. I tend to feel very protective of those I consider friends, even those I’ve only met and talked to online.

So instead of coming home to crash on the couch, and maybe — if I felt ambitious — getting up to put in an episode of Avatar, I sat down to write this.


Dear Robin Sullivan,

I don’t know what led up to the problems outlined by Ann Crispin in her latest Facebook post and on Absolute Write. At this point, however, I don’t particularly care.

Based on what Crispin describes, you have deprived her — an excellent author and an invaluable resource to the SF/F community, who is currently battling cancer — from her sole source of income this year. You have ignored her attempts to communicate with you.

Fix this.

Or I swear to God, I will do everything in my power to drop the entire fucking internet on your head.

Jim C. Hines

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

lagilman: coffee or die (bitch)
Book Publisher Goes To Court To Recoup Hefty Advances From Prominent Writers

A New York publisher this week filed lawsuits against several prominent writers who failed to deliver books for which they received hefty contractual advances, records show.

I made the mistake of reading the comments in this, and was astounded (and yet not all that surprised) by the level of clueless entitlement in many of the responses, including a few people who should know better.

Folks, a contract is a legal document. It is binding on both parties. So before bitching about a publisher's behavior, read your contract. If you agreed to terms, and don't deliver your end of the deal (either by not-delivering or delivering something that does not match the terms of the deal, ex: was a fake) then in most every contract ever written, they have every legal right to ask for their end of the bargain (the advance) back.

This is not astounding. It is not unfair. It is business.

Traditionally, publishers have written off "bad" advances as the cost of doing business. They consider it the price of maintaining good-will, and weigh it against the cost of fighting to reclaim said advances. Tradition should not be taken for terms. If we're going to demand that publishers act like fiscally responsible businesses when it benefits us, we also need to accept that this may occasionally bite us on the (delinquent) ass. Especially when the economy is crap.

Don't like it? Don't sign the contract. Or, better yet, live up to your end of the deal. Get your book in. Within a reasonable timeframe of the deadline (where reasonable is defined by how much they want to keep you and what you can work out with your editor ahead of time).

We bitch about publishers, and rightfully so. But that does not make the author always the angel.
lagilman: coffee or die (caffeine)
   Note: as per custom, this is an April Fool's Free Zone.   

I did not harass you at all FOR FOUR DAYS! with updates on "Miles to Go" / "Promises to Keep." I realize that some of you are waiting to dive in at the last minute, or haven't yet decided if you're going to go in at the $9 level (and just get the novellas) or go for one of the higher bonus levels. I'm trying to respect all that. But *bounce bounce* it's haaaaaaaard.

So I'll just quietly remind you: Only You Can Make It Happen

Oh. And I added something to the 100/300/500 bonus levels. :-)

Saturday I stopped by the Tax Guy's office and determined that yes, I had overpaid my quarterly estimates for 2011. This has a single result with several offshoots. The result, of course, is that I do not owe further monies, come April 15th. This is the good part. The first offshoot, which is a bad one, is that I sent the government money I could have held onto/used. Meh. The second offshoot, which is a good one, is that rather than ask for the money back, we're applying it towards THIS year's taxes, so I don't have to shell out any cash at the quarterly estimates [it counts as 'withheld,' and we'll figure out what I actually owe at the end of the year, just like Salaried People]. So the third offshoot is that I don't have a refund to look forward to. Meh. (this is actually both a good and a bad thing, so I guess it all works out).

Freelancer taxes. Very complicated (especially when you're also a homeowner/stockholder/head-of-household). Tax Guy earns his paycheck (although he doesn't charge much, since I come in with everything organized, labeled, and backed up with appropriate forms, which means his actual time-spent is far less than someone who walks in with a shoe box full of receipts).

Then I went over to CorkBuzz, which I'd been meaning to try since they opened late last year, and met up with a fellow Penguin alum-turned-writer, Jeanine C. Very good food, wine, and gossip, followed. I can recommend CorkBuzz for New Yorkers - the wine list is interesting, the food was very good, the staff delightful, and the surroundings cozy, clean and comfortable. It's also not-cheap, alas (the wines range from $10-$40/glass)**. Still: I'll be back.

This morning, the cats woke me up at 3. Also, at 6. At 6 I fed them and went back to sleep until 8. Such indolence! Now, I plan on ignoring the foolery going on on-line, and working all day. Thankfully for productivity (if not my muscles) the weather, while dryer, is overcast, and does not tempt me onto my bike.

Plan for today: Finish novella revisions. Finish Rush Copyedit #2. Finish pending editorial work. Send out "From Whence You Came" to all Kickstarter backers. Yes you read that right..... :-D

*I am using the old icon because my new haircut once again matches it.
**yes, they have cocktails and some interesting beer, too.
lagilman: coffee or die (crunchy)
Ah, March, and the first net worth snapshot of the year (I try to do one at the 3 month and 9 month marks, so's not to interfere with taxes and whatnot).


Net worth is calculated by adding up everything you've got (investments, saved cash, property-at-current-value, etc) and then subtracting out what you owe (mortgage, credit card balances, loan repayments, etc). It's a quick way to see where you stand, financially.

The story I like most to explain net worth is Donald Trump claiming that the bum on the street had a higher net worth than he did. At the time he had like a gazillion dollars in assets... but he had a gazillion-and-one dollars in debt, too. So he was right - the guy with nothing was worth more.

Even if you're not Trump, a negative net worth isn't - I'm told - unusual, especially if you have a large (new) mortgage on the books, or are young enough to still be carrying student loans/haven't had a chance to build your retirement fund. It's not cause to panic, but it is, IMO, reason to reconsider your saving and spending patterns. If you're in the black, then you're heading the right direction. Which way the trajectory is going (increased or decreased worth) lets you tweak your planning.

Having an IRA (the self-employed's version of a 401k), and not having a mortgage, puts me in the black every year. Adding to it? That's a bit tougher. But taking the snapshot lets me see if I'm making progress. (slow. very very very slow progress. with occasional backslides)

I take a snapshot twice a year, because I'm slightly obsessive about that (as a self-employed professional, I have to be) but once a year is fine, too. Like doing a weekly weigh-in at the same time of day, it shows you any major changes, while ignoring the smaller and perfectly normal day-to-day variations.

The one thing that I haven't figured out how to add to my calculations, though, is the estimated value of my literary estate (such as it is). With 17+ books I hold copyright on, I'm sure it's worth something but that something could range from $1.48 to $148,000. Okay, it's probably closer to $1.48. My usual trick is to average all royalties paid over the past five years, and use that sum, but past performance is no indicator of future success....
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)

Today is BookDay for TRICKS OF THE TRADE.  I am so proud and happy of
this book, I wish I could spend all day kvelling over it, sharing
reviews and stories.

But something happened this morning that has taken my attention and
energy away.  Early in the morning, the NYPD raided and cleared Liberty
Square, the site of the Occupy Wall Street protest – and they did it
without a clear warrant, without allowing the press (or local citizens)
to observe.  But there were observers.

The NYPD Didn’t Want You To See Occupy Wall Street Get Evicted

Go.  Read. You may not agree with OWS’s goals, or you may think that
they are too disorganized, or too Not What You Would Do…but the way the
raids have come, in the dark, with violence and an utter disregard for
citizens’ rights, should horrify anyone but the most stanch apologist
for Corporate America.

And dudes…in addition to tents, food, and personal belongings, the
cops destroyed over 5,000 books.  The Peoples’ Library, entire, was
thrown into a dumpster.  You know who destroys books?  People who don’t
want you to think.  People who don’t want you to wonder, or question. 
People who want downtrodden masses, not those who lift their heads and
walk freely.

And I say: the HELL with that.

Originally published at Practical Meerkat: A Blog 
lagilman: coffee or die (brain.  hurts.)
So I went to see the New Tax Guy on Friday and we started talking, as you do, and then I handed over my paperwork, and I looked up and he had That Look.

That Look being the look of "why do you need me, you've clearly got your shit together."

I get That Look occasionally. It still makes me laugh. "I gots everyone fooled!" Also, there is no way I can keep up with the minute craziness that is taxation for freelancers, even in a relatively freelancer-friendly state. I'd rather pay someone to save me from the hours and headaches.

However, at this moment I am feeling all sorts of RAWRR and mighty, because the revisions to TRICKS OF THE TRADE are done, as of this evening, at a lean and tight 91,000 words, and dear god I hope I didn't break anything new in the fixing.

Tomorrow, there is freelance work to be done, and on Monday the revisions letter for THE SHATTERED VINE is finally supposed to land, and I still have to write PSI #4, SIGHT UNSEEN, and there's not one but two blog posts due next week, and did I mention that the bathroom renovations start on Monday, too?

But tonight? Tonight there is wine and sofa and tv, and not writing a damn. word. more.


lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Laura Anne Gilman

October 2017

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